We sat down with author and writer Gayle Romasanta of Bridge and Delta Publishing to get her perspective on combining the arts with entrepreneurship. Gayle gave us her straightforward advice on:
Being an artist and learning to be an entrepreneur
The power of thinking bigger
How Art of Hustle helped her crowdfund not one but four Filipino American children’s books
Press PLAY in the video below.
My name is Gayle Romasanta and I am the owner and publisher of Bridge and Delta Publishing. It is a woman owned, Pinay owned publishing house that focuses on American storytelling, specifically a storytelling from immigrant families, immigrant history and definitely Filipino American history.
“…Our children need access to our stories at a much earlier age.”
I’ve been writing and editing for over 20 years. I’ve always wanted to curate stories. I felt that our students and our families and our children need access to our stories at a much earlier age. I worked for a publisher for several years and I learned a lot about production and I approached Dr. Dawn Mabalon, the late and great Filipina American historian to co-write the first book, Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong.
So, I worked on that with her and we created a series of Filipino American history books for children. So, that’s kind of how it all began. But really, from the strong desire of curating stories and wanting to put them out for a younger audience. I think from the very beginning, I needed help because I went to art school, I’m a creative person and I don’t necessarily have the background. I’ve never been taught how to have a business.
“I went to art school…I’ve never been taught how to have a business.”
You know, as Filipino Americans, we’re not even told to become artists, so when we are there’s really not a lot of resources or family members that are out there to help us. I was friends with Anthem and I started asking him questions about what I wanted to do and he gave me advice. And, from that advice, I went and started a fundraising campaign for Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong and we were able to raise over 40 thousand dollars.
That was the seed money to provide the funding necessary for the production costs of 4 Filipino American history books. Without that information from Anthem, we wouldn’t have even been thinking about a series. We would have just been nickel and diming, trying to figure out how to get the first book out production-wise and from there I became a client of Anthem and he’s really helped me calm my anxiety, because there’s a lot of investment when you start your own company.
“There’s a lot of investment when you start your own company.”
So, it’s very scary to put everything financial on the line for a huge project like this and especially one where I have a big vision for it. Where can I marry the big vision and the practicality of being a business owner and put that together and be able to create momentum and the funding necessary to sustain it. I think being an artist for so long, getting paid is supposed to be dirty or like, oh if you’re a real artist you’d be doing this for free, or you’d be for the community. That’s one of the biggest things, working with Anthem, is to really make sure everything that I’m doing can also help me provide for my family and provide for myself.
“It’s very scary to put everything financial on the line…”
It’s really accepting the fact of being okay with the idea that yes as an artist I should be able to ask for money, I should be able to put the contracts out there, I should be making a certain percentage off of the work that I put out. You know, I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and I haven’t been asking for what I needed. You know, working with him on the building blocks of owning your business, what is involved? There’s marketing, there’s branding, there’s your own story brand.
“As an artist…I should be making a certain percentage off of the work that I put out.”
Definitely if you’re a client of his, you get access to his full library of information, where he breaks down business owning, being an entrepreneur. You need a certain type of thinking and if you don’t know how to be an entrepreneur you better learn to be an entrepreneur or your money’s going to go down the drain.
“I’m looking at things from a bigger picture.”
I think I’m looking at things from a bigger picture. I know working with Anthem, he always wanted us to get out of the day to day business making, to have you be the CEO of a company with a larger strategic plan. And, I think with strategy that’ll help me address the community’s needs. Also, address my own needs artistically and then address the financial needs of what it takes to sustain. Working with him is a calming effect for me, where I can understand where everything is getting placed and how can I further what I’m doing on a larger scale.